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The foundation of Northwestern University's Meaningful Science Consortium (MSC) is that students learn best when they see a purpose for what they are learning. By connecting students' learning experiences with goals that they care about, students move beyond simply meeting the standards and become inspired to pursue membership in academic communities of practice. The collection of MSC projects below has explored new models of supporting teachers and teacher leaders to implement inspiring experiences in science. In addition, we have explored ways of inspiring students with direct connections to Northwestern University research scientists.

Meaningful Science Consortium IDS
MSC is a multiyear reform initiative for science departments in Chicago high schools. The mission is capacity building, and its approach is to work collaboratively with teachers and administrators to build new strengths through professional development, coaching, assessment, and professional networking-all geared towards helping teachers improve student outcomes. MSC supports adopted curricula and a course sequence for freshman, sophomore, and junior years at the targeted high schools. Teachers received 75 hours of professional development in their first two years of teaching an MSC course. Coaches, who met one-on-one with teachers weekly, provided content and pedagogical background as well as expertise in the specific MSC curriculum to assist teachers with their planning. MSC provides each course with 4 common assessments that are linked to the Illinois Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) that students take in spring of their junior year. Three of the exams, administered quarterly, are formative in nature and the fourth is the end of course exam. The exams have been designed to be predictive of performance on the PSAE exam. The IDS program was funded in part by a grant from the Gates Foundation to Chicago Public Schools.

Chicago Transformation Teacher Institute (CTTI)
CTTI is an NSF-funded Math Science Partnership of five universities (University of Illinois at Chicago, DePaul University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Loyola University Chicago, and Northwestern University) and the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Its aim is to increase the content, pedagogical, and leadership skills of teachers through a school leader-team approach. The CTTI teacher program includes several components in addition to networking programs: Coursework in mathematics, physical science, and life and environmental science. The courses provide for increased content knowledge by teachers, including how the content is embedded in contemporary issues and current research. They also support the growth of deep knowledge required for strong cross-curricula work. Workshops on leadership and teaching that provide increased skills in how to use content to understand classroom practice, including instructional design, selection of classroom materials, pedagogy, and assessment of student knowledge. The teachers use their new knowledge to develop improved curricula for schools to use in 12th grade capstone and AP classes. These curricula will be part of a vertical alignment of all four years of high school science or mathematics. The Chicago Transformation Teacher Institute is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation to the University of Illinois at Chicago.

NASA Capstone Course
MSC and the Earth and Planetary Science department have partnered with the Chicago Public Schools, Adler Planetarium, DePaul University, Loyola University, and University of Chicago to offer high school students and teachers a 5-week summer research experience in studying climate change using NASA data. Students use their research experience as the basis for developing science fair projects to be presented at the Chicago city science fair. Researchers are creating classroom curriculum resources to support teachers in replicating the summer research experience as a 12th-grade elective NASA research course. The NASA Capstone Course development is supported by a grant from NASA to the Chicago Public Schools.

MSC Project Showcase
Students who are participating in MSC programs have the opportunity to submit their project work to staff at MSC. The best projects are selected and the students are invited to present their projects at the annual MSC Project Showcase, which is held in conjunction with Northwestern University's Undergraduate Research and Arts Exposition. The MSC students are treated to lunch at the Norris University Center. In the afternoon, students tour Northwestern research laboratories to get first hand experience with the science they have learned in the classroom. The project showcase was sponsored by Motorola in 2011 and BP America in 2012.

MSC Lesson Planning Tool
With support from Boeing we have begun to address the significant challenge teachers have in understanding the coherence of activities in a project-based curriculum. This coherence stands in contrast to traditional instruction, which tends to focus on isolated facts. To be successful with a project-based approach, teachers and administrators need to understand how to manage the dual purpose of each activity: addressing state standards and preparing students for the final project. The MSC IDS has provided a sequence of high school lesson that provides coherence between individual lessons, the final project, and standards-based outcomes that appear on the end-of-course exams. Standards are addressed throughout a project, and teachers often have difficulty knowing what lessons can be modified or eliminated with the least impact on this coherence. We have developed the web-based lesson planning tool to help teachers understand the underlying structure of the curriculum in order to maintain the coherence between individual lessons, the final project, and standards-based outcomes that appear on the end of course exams.

Early Education Science Partnership (E2SP) Recognizing that success in high school science depends on strong preparation in elementary school, MSC has partnered with the CPS Office of Science, The Field Museum, Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago Children's Museum, and Lincoln Park Zoo to develop a new school-based professional development program focused on improving K-3rd grade teachers' ability to effectively use informal resources to engage their students in learning science. MSC is providing professional development and coursework for E2SP teacher leaders and school-based instructional leadership teams. The Early Elementary Science Partnership is generously supported by the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust and Motorola Foundation